Information for sex workers on income support – 21 March 2020
The coronavirus has brought everything to a standstill. Sex workers have also been asked to temporarily stop their activities. Because of this, many sex workers run into big financial problems.
Below we have written down what we currently know about possibilities to get financial assistance. To some questions we do not yet have a clear answer. This mainly applies to sex workers who work through the opting-in arrangement and sex workers from other EU countries.
We are trying to find out more information through contacts with municipalities, members of parliament and the Immigration Services. As soon as we know more, we will add the information.
Requests for special assistance through the Bbz, the Temporary Social Assistance Provision for Self-Employed Persons (see below) must be made at the municipality where you live. As an appendix to this info sheet you will find two letters written by Humanitas to support sex workers who apply for the Bbz. There are two different letters: a letter for sex workers who work as freelancers and a letter for sex workers who work with opting-in. Maybe you can also use them in your own municipality when applying for income support.
Bbz: Extra income support for independent entrepreneurs
The government has set up a special emergency scheme for independent entrepreneurs: the Temporary Social Assistance Scheme for Self-Employed Persons (Bbz). We assume that self-employed sex workers can also make use of this scheme.
The regulation can be found here: https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/actueel/nieuws/2020/03/17/coronavirus-kabinet-neemt-pakket-nieuwe-maatregelen-voor-banen-en-economie
The Bbz is a temporary measure to support independent entrepreneurs, including self-employed persons. The measure is implemented by the municipalities. Self-employed persons can receive additional income support for living expenses for a period of three months, via an accelerated procedure. The benefit supplements the income up to the social minimum. This is maximum 1,500 net per month, depending on the individual (family) situation. It does not have to be repaid and there is no capital or partner income test. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment still needs to elaborate the measure. The measure will take effect retroactively as of 1 March 2020 and will last (at least) until 1 June 2020.
Minister Koolmees of Social Affairs) said in a press conference on 17 March that the Bbz-scheme will be further elaborated and will probably be announced this week. Here is the link to the documents: https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/coronavirus-covid-19/nieuws/2020/03/17/coronavirus-kabinet-neemt-pakket-nieuwe-maatregelen-voor-banen-en-economie
Q: Can sex workers make use of the Bbz?
Q: Does this also apply to sex workers who work through the opting-in?
A: We assume that the regulation also applies to indoor and escort sex workers who work according to the (compulsory) opting-in arrangement.
‘Opting-in’ is a so-called “fictitious employment relation” that only applies to the tax authorities. It does not give any employment law or social security law rights. You are not insured for unemployment and incapacity to work due to illness and you have no labour law protection. Just like other self-employed persons, all risk of illness and/or lack of clients lies with the sex worker.
That is why we think that the scheme for self-employed sex workers should also apply to opting-in sex workers. But we don’t know (yet) that for sure. However, we are trying to find out.
As far as we know, sex workers in The Hague and Rotterdam who work via the opting-in can appeal on the Bbz-scheme.
Q: Can sex workers from other EU countries also apply without losing their right of residence?
A: According to the normal rules, citizens of other EU Member States who have been here for less than 5 years cannot apply for Dutch social security benefits. If they do so, this may have negative consequences for their residency rights (depending, among others, on the length of their stay in the Netherlands) When EU citizens apply for social benefits, the municipality must report this to the Immigration Services (IND), which will start an investigation. However, such an investigation takes some time and if by that time the person has her/his own income again and thus the right to stay, there is no problem. It remains, though, an uncertain situation, in which the IND decides afterwards whether or not an appeal for a benefit affects your right of residence.
It is not clear whether these rules also apply in the current situation. After all, these are exceptional times. We have put the question to the IND (Immigration Service) whether sex workers from other EU countries can call upon the Bbz-scheme without possible negative consequences for their right of residence. The IND’s answer was that the support measures are so new that they do not know yet. When we know more, we will add the information to this sheet.
In the meantime, if you are an EU citizen and you want to apply for the Bbz or another benefit, please contact one of the organisations below for advice and help.
Do you need help with applying for income support?
You can contact these organisations:
P&G 292 Amsterdam
Shop Den Haag
Call: 070-3614747 (leave a message on the answering machine and they will call you back)
Door2Door & Prostitutie Maatschappelijk Werk van Stichting Humanitas Rotterdam
Belle (hulp aan sekswerkers) Utrecht
Call: 06 53 71 18 79
Prostitutie Maatschappelijk Werk Tilburg
Call: 06 58 98 35 93
Most sex clubs and escort agencies work with ‘opting-in’, in which the club/agency pays income and VAT taxes on behalf of the sex worker, but which does not give sex workers access to social security or labour law protection.